Commentary Archive

What to Expect: Lamar

After Thursday night’s 74-68 win over SMU, Indiana has a quick turnaround as the Hoosiers will be back in Assembly Hall on Saturday night for a matchup with Lamar. 

The game tips at 8 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network with Tom Hamilton and Shon Morris on the call:

Indiana’s four-game exempt tournament, coined the Hoosiers Showcase, continues with an opponent that could end up right in the conversation with Mississippi Valley State for the nation’s worst Division I team.

The Cardinals, who are led by Tic Price, come into Bloomington ranked No. 348 in the KenPom ratings and with a 1-2 record that includes road losses to SMU and Texas State. So who did Lamar beat? LSU-Alexandria, an NAIA team in its first season of competition, by just three points.

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Price, who has gigs as the head coach at Memphis, the University of New Orleans and McNeese State on his resume, took over as the interim coach last spring when Pat Knight was fired after another dismal season. He was then named the head coach on a permanent basis in March.

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Win against SMU a sign Indiana is ‘growing up’

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As Tom Crean spoke following his team’s 74-68 win over No. 22 SMU on Thursday night, the emotion in the voice of the seventh-year Indiana coach was noticeable and powerful.

“We’ve got a lot of places to get better at,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of games to play. But with what they’ve been through over a period of time, I’m proud of their work. I’m proud of how serious they are.

“I’m proud of – they’re trying to grow up. They’re growing up.”

Minutes earlier, his team had just completed an upset of the nationally-ranked Mustangs. His team that had nine newcomers to start the season. His team that faced so much adversity in the weeks leading up to the season — with the Devin Davis and Emmitt Holt car accident and the Troy Williams and Stan Robinson suspensions. His team that dealt with public doubts from fans, media and alumni.

On Thursday, in front of an anxious yet electrified crowd in Assembly Hall, it all reached a crescendo. This time, though, the adversity came on the court.

“You can’t plan for everything that they’ve been through and that they’re going through,” Crean said. “It’s not like we’ve been through it. I mean, we’re still in the midst of it. We’re still in the midst of maturing. We’re still in the midst of growing up.”

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What to Expect: SMU

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After just two days off, Indiana returns to action on Thursday night at Assembly Hall for a meeting with No. 22 SMU.

The game will tip at 8 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network with Eric Collins and Jim Jackson on the call:

What was once billed as a marquee non-conference home game for Indiana has lost some of its luster. Southern Methodist University, coached by Hall of Famer Larry Brown, was once thought of as a potential top 10 team this season.

But the Mustangs suffered a season-changing blow in the summer when the nation’s No. 2 recruit, Emmanuel Mudiay, headed to China to play professionally, rather than to SMU’s campus. The news for SMU hasn’t gotten better in recent weeks as last week it was announced that big man Markus Kennedy will miss the first semester for academic reasons.

SMU is still a very solid team that appears plenty capable of making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1993, but without Mudiay the ceiling for this group is much lower. While it’s not the marquee non-conference home game that the IU administration is still searching for after Kentucky fell off the schedule following the 2011-2012 season, it’s an early chance for the Hoosiers to get a win that could hold some water come March.

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Mike Davis all smiles in return to Bloomington

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As Mike Davis prepared to walk onto Branch McCracken Court 12 minutes before tipoff on Monday night, the former Indiana coach looked up and smiled.

The long, winding road the 54-year-old Texas Southern coach has endured had taken him back to Bloomington — the place where his head-coaching career began more than 14 years ago.

His trip onto the Assembly Hall floor slowed as he reminisced with former co-workers. By the time he finished the pregame greetings, the buzzer signaling the end of warmups blared. He still was smiling.

“It’s just great to be back,” Davis said. “I wanted to bring my family back. Indiana has shown so much love for me. I’m where I am today because of Indiana basketball.”

When Davis resigned as the Indiana basketball coach after the 2005-2006 season, after six rocky seasons that included an NCAA Final Four trip and two seasons of missing the NCAA tournament completely, Davis’s career went on. Though he went on to coach UAB, a Conference USA school, and now Texas Southern, a SWAC school, he said he held no animosity against Indiana.

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What to Expect: Texas Southern

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On a quick turnaround, Indiana is back in Assembly Hall tonight to begin the four-game Hoosiers Showcase. First up is Texas Southern, which is coached by former IU coach Mike Davis. 

The game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network at 6 p.m. ET with Chris Denari and Jim Jackson on the call.

First things first: If you haven’t read our expansive Q & A with Davis, I recommend doing so at this link.

As far as Davis returning to Assembly Hall to coach against a program that he once led, it’s an opportunity that he clearly is looking forward to with great enthusiasm. Despite the rocky ending to his tenure in Bloomington, time has likely healed much of the ill will toward Davis and the expectation is that he’ll be welcomed with a friendly ovation when he’s announced on Branch McCracken Court.

The program Davis now leads, Texas Southern, is coming off a trip to the NCAA tournament after winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament last season. Given what the program lost in the offseason, which includes big man Aaric Murray, the likelihood for another run to March Madness aren’t favorable.

PERSONNEL

A pair of talented perimeter players, one who IU fans should have some familiarity with, will lead Texas Southern into Assembly Hall. Nebraska transfer Deverell Biggs, who was dismissed by Tim Miles last season, as well as Marshall transfer Chris Thomas, are the two Tigers to keep an eye on.

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What to Expect: Mississippi Valley State

Indiana opens the 2014-2015 season on Friday night at Assembly Hall with Mississippi Valley State, a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).

The game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. ET with Tom Hamilton and Shon Morris on the call.

Two of Indiana’s non-conference opponents this season begin ranked in the bottom five of the KenPom ratings. Lamar, which comes to Assembly Hall on Nov. 22 and Friday’s opponent, Mississippi Valley State.

This isn’t the first trip to Bloomington for the Delta Devils. Back in Tom Crean’s third season in Bloomington, Mississippi Valley State came to Assembly Hall for a mid-November contest that the Hoosiers won, 71-54. The program has changed coaches twice since that game in 2010 and the outlook for this year’s MVSU team is, quite frankly, bleak.

PERSONNEL

A quick glance at Mississippi Valley State’s stats from last season shows that 17 (!) different players scored in a game. Three of those players were seniors and of the 14 others, only five returned to Itta Bena to play for new coach Andre Payne.

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Indiana fans are hurt and for good reason

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Indiana basketball fans are hurt and they should be. The emotions are wide ranging: There is anger. There is disgust. And there’s sadness.

Two days out from the exhibition opener at Assembly Hall, the last 72 hours have been the most tumultuous of the Tom Crean era in Bloomington.

Sophomore Devin Davis should be preparing to show off the game he worked so hard in the offseason to improve. Instead, he remains in IU Health Bloomington Hospital with a serious head injury after a senseless accident that should have never happened.

His teammate, freshman Emmitt Holt, will sit out four games for his involvement in that accident and is unquestionably dealing with emotions stemming from it that make basketball seem unimportant.

Sophomores Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams will also sit four games, two exhibitions and two regular season contests, for failed drug tests. It’s totally fair to question if those suspensions were harsh enough, but both players must accept the punishment that comes from their selfish actions.

And then there’s Crean, who is ultimately the one responsible for the program as its leader and head coach. While it is true that Crean can’t control the behavior of the young men who he has recruited to be a part of his program, he’s the one who ultimately has to be responsible for it. He’s being questioned from all angles right now and many of those inquiries are totally legitimate.

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